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Marlar rolls to Volunteer Speedway Spring Nationals Series $10,052 ‘Scott Sexton Memorial’ victory
By Robert Walden
BULLS GAP, Tenn. (April 28, 2017) — The Schaeffer’s Oil Spring Nationals Series presented by Sunoco Race Fuels and Tennessee RV Supercenter fifth annual Scott Sexton Memorial headlined the racing program Friday night at Volunteer Speedway, and before a big home-state crowd Mike Marlar of Winfield captured the $10,052 victory in the event which honored a legendary East Tennessee racer.
With a stellar field of 34 Super Late Model drivers representing 12 states and Canada assembled at “The Gap” for the Scott Sexton Memorial, Ricky Weiss of Headingly, Manitoba, Canada was fastest qualifier in Group A and overall at 12.116 seconds. Shanon Buckingham of Morristown was quickest in Group B at 12.213 seconds.
Four heat races each transferred the top four finishers into the main event, with Marlar winning the first heat over Weiss, Dale McDowell and Brandon Sheppard. Jimmy Owens of Newport took the win in heat two over Eric Wells, Tim McCreadie and Skylar Marlar.
Michael Chilton, from Salvisa, Kentucky, earned the victory in the third heat over Buckingham, Tyler Erb and Vic Hill. Chris Madden of Gaffney, South Carolina, won the fourth heat over Donald McIntosh, Kyle Hardy and Joey Coulter.
Michael Page of Douglasville, Georgia, and Brian Shirley from Chatham, Illinois, each won last chance B-main races which determined the remainder of the starting field for the 52-lap feature.
With fans on their feet Chilton rocketed out into the lead at drop of the green flag over Marlar, Madden, Owens and Buckingham. Chilton quickly pulled out to right at a half-straightaway advantage over Marlar, Madden, Owens and Buckingham.
Behind the top five in the running order action was fast-and-furious involving Weiss, Wells, McIntosh, McDowell, Erb, McCreadie, Sheppard, Hardy, Hill, Coulter and Shirley.
Chilton caught tail of the field on lap 11 to work slower traffic at rear of the field, which allowed Marlar and Madden to close behind the leader. Marlar dove to inside of Chilton entering the first turn on lap 14, and as they raced off the second corner down the backstretch he grabbed the lead.
Smashing the loud pedal Marlar began to put some real estate between himself and those in pursuit, but the racing behind involving Chilton, Madden, Owens and Buckingham was close quarters. Madden got around Chilton for second place on lap 29 between turns three and four, but leader Marlar was almost a full-straightaway ahead.
With the race past the halfway distance, many in the crowd were thinking “could the race run caution-free?” Well, when you have many of the top dirt late model professional racers in the business on the track who regularly compete with the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series and World of Outlaws Late Model Series, you can expect good, hard-nosed racing but done so with respect to fellow competitors.
McIntosh worked his way past Buckingham for fifth on lap 34, which in turn opened the door for McDowell to also overtake Buckingham for position. Meanwhile, Owens was up-on-the-wheel trying to get around Chilton for the third spot, and he finally got the job done.
McDowell was coming, and coming with a purpose as he got by McIntosh for fifth place on lap 36 and then inside of 10 laps remaining he passed both Chilton and Owens to move into third. But with leader Marlar working lapped traffic to perfection, he never really missed a beat to allow Madden and McDowell to seriously close within striking distance as he rolled to the $10,052 Scott Sexton Memorial victory over Madden, McDowell, Owens and Chilton.
Completing the top 10 finishers were McIntosh, Buckingham, Wells, Hardy and Sheppard. The top 10 cars were on the lead lap at the checkered flag, as Marlar got around 11th-place finisher Weiss on the white flag lap.
Matt Henderson set fast-time at 13.226 seconds in Crate Late Model qualifying to earn the pole position for the $1,500-to-win feature. But with 30 cars packing the pits, only the top 14 drivers were locked into the 30-lap feature. Two heat races each transferred the top five finishers to determine the remaining starting spots in the strong 24-car field.
Jason Trammell of Knoxville powered into the lead on the opening lap over Henderson, Tim Maupin, Gary Crittenden and Jimmy Elliott.
Trammell was flexing his muscles out front in putting some distance between himself and closest challengers, but the action between Henderson, Maupin, Crittenden and Elliott was heated. Behind them the racing was intense as well with several drivers jockeyed for position including Ross White, Benji Hicks, Forrest Trent, Philip Thompson, Josh Henry and Jensen Ford.
With the race running clean-and-green from the start, White spun in the fourth turn on lap 14 while battling for sixth with Hicks to bring out the first caution.
Off the ensuing double-file restart, just behind leader Trammell both Henderson and Maupin got together at end of the front straightaway to almost wreck between turns one and two, stacking the field up and forcing several drivers into evasive maneuvers to avoid a big pileup. But before one lap was completed back under green, Maupin and Trent tangled exiting the fourth turn onto the front straightaway to see the caution quickly come back out.
Finally back under green, Trammell was out front in a zone all of his own while behind him the action was two- and three-wide back through the top 15 cars in the running order much to delight of the fans. Caution waved on lap 22 when Thompson spun and tagged the wall while battling for position, with Ford also pulling into the pits with the yellow out to end strong runs for both drivers.
Poised for a run to the checkers, Trammell once again pulled away from those in pursuit to impressively bring home a flag-to-flag victory over Elliott, Henderson, Crittenden and Hicks.
Completing the top 10 finishers were Maupin, Henry, Vic Chandler, Rusty Ballenger and Tim Byrd.
Jordon Horton, from New Tazewell, jumped out into the lead at start of the 25-lap Sportsman Late Model feature and never looked back en route to capturing his second win this season over Matt Tharp, Brad Seagle, Cody Smith and Andy Ogle.
Brad Davis of Tazewell outran defending Modified Street track champion Chris Rickett, Austin Atkins, Jeffrey Melton and Michael Woods to record his first win of the season.
VOLUNTEER SPEEDWAY – BULLS GAP, TN – FRIDAY, APRIL 28, 2017 – SCHAEFFER’S OIL SPRING NATIONALS SERIES – FIFTH ANNUAL SCOTT SEXTON MEMORIAL (52 LAPS … $10,052-TO-WIN)
1. Mike Marlar #157-Winfield, TN
Did Not Start:
Mark Douglas #52D-Knoxville, TN
Time of Race: 12 minutes, 5 seconds
Heat #1 (top 4 finishers transfer): Mike Marlar, Ricky Weiss, Dale McDowell, Brandon Sheppard, Michael Page, Jamie Perry, Derek Ellis, Blake Spencer, Levi Ashby
Heat #2 (top 4 finishers transfer): Jimmy Owens, Eric Wells, Tim McCreadie, Skylar Marlar, Zack Dohm, Brandon Overton, Billy Ogle Jr., Chad Ogle
Heat #3 (top 4 finishers transfer): Michael Chilton, Shanon Buckingham, Tyler Erb, Vic Hill, Brian Shirley, Mark Douglas, Chicky Barton, Carder Miller, Steve Smith
Heat #4 (top 4 finishers transfer): Chris Madden, Donald McIntosh, Kyle Hardy, Joey Coulter, Jason Jameson, Jason Croft, Robby Moses, Ryan King
B-Main #1 (top 2 finishers transfer): Michael Page, Jamie Perry, Derek Ellis, Zack Dohm, Brandon Overton (DNS), Billy Ogle Jr. (DNS), Blake Spencer (DNS), Chad Ogle (DNS), Levi Ashby (DNS)
B-Main #2 (top 2 finishers transfer): Brian Shirley, Jason Jameson, Mark Douglas, Robby Moses, Jason Croft, Chicky Barton, Carder Miller (DNS), Ryan King (DNS), Steve Smith (DNS)
CRATE LATE MODEL (30 laps)
1. Jason Trammell #97
Did Not Start: Preston Whitehead #81, Drew Kennedy #K37, Jason Melton #95, Kip Sawyer #44, Dennis Stiles #00, Vance Surratt #56
SPORTSMAN LATE MODEL (25 laps)
1. Jordon Horton #57
MODIFIED STREET (25 laps)
1. Brad Davis #88
Volunteer Speedway (General Manager): 865-